Citizens Advice launches the (gulp) ‘Martin Lewis Fund’

Citizens Advice is an amazing charity of professionals and volunteers who help people with debt, legal, consumer rights and a range of other issues. 

This week the organisation is announcing it’s setting up the ‘Martin Lewis Fund’ using money from a recent donation I made, and I thought it’d be good to explain what it’s doing.

And just to say at the start, I was somewhat gobsmacked and moved when I heard they were naming the fund after me. It’s not normally a part of my giving strategy, but it’s very kind of them.

My donations to Citizens Advice have been made for three main reasons:

1) They need money and it does a great deal of good.
2) To make sure people realise Citizens Advice is a charity, so if they’ve been helped, and are in a position to, they should donate too.
3) As a bit of shaming about how its public funding has been cut over the years.

This new fund comes from the more recent £1m donation given as part of the MSE earnout (also see the full £20m giving strategy blog).

Rather than explaining what it does myself, here’s the info from Citizens Advice’s internal website and the blog of its chief executive Gillian Guy…

“Last year, consumer champion Martin Lewis gave our service a very generous donation. This money is being invested in the local Citizens Advice network through the Martin Lewis Fund, a process designed to ensure this money makes a real difference to clients’ lives across England and Wales.

“This is an opportunity for you to develop an inventive project to meet client needs, run it for up to a year and then take it to potential funders with proof that it’s a workable and needed service.

“We will support you to make sure projects are funder-ready where possible, and help capture and share learnings so that successful projects can be replicated by other local Citizens Advice.”

Gillian’s (internal) blog – launching the Martin Lewis Fund

This is taken from Gillian’s blog about the new fund…

“As you all know, last year Martin Lewis gave our service a very generous donation of £1 million, to be split between Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice Northern Ireland. Today I’m pleased to launch the Martin Lewis Fund – a way for local Citizens Advice in England and Wales to apply for a share of this funding to develop inventive projects that will benefit clients and be replicable across our network.

“In Martin’s video about the fund, he explains that he wants his donation to go to the front line, and that he’d like you to use it to find ways to improve our service and make it “fit for twenty first century Britain”. We have agreed the following project categories:

1. Engaging with a digital world

2. Expanding our reach in health and social care

3. Responding to local government reorganisation

4. Volunteer roles for 2016 & beyond

5. Increasing our financial resilience

“These are all areas where we feel there are real challenges and opportunities for our service.

“The funding will be allocated in three stages. In the first stage, up to 50 projects will be awarded £1,000 each to develop their ideas and test with users, supported by the bidding support team. After assessments and interviews, up to 25 projects will then be awarded up to £25,000 each to continue for one year. Finally, up to 10 of these projects will be funded for a further six months to build the evidence and knowledge base needed to replicate their work across the network.”

[Then there are details about how you apply, which are internal for Citizens Advice only.]

“We’re very grateful to Martin for providing us with this exciting opportunity to invest in new ideas which will solve problems for our clients and change even more lives. He is looking forward to see what you come up with – and so are we. I hope you will all get involved, and wish you the very best of luck.”